Nestled between North College Hill and Clifton lies Northside, where quality, diversity,and affordability abound on the food scene. Each restaurant is unique and has its own stamp on a different culinary genre.Whether it’s south-of-the-border, vegetarian,or a dish you grew up with, Northside has what you seek. “People come from all over the city to try what Northside has to offer,” says Mary Kroner, co-owner of Ruth’s Parkside Café. “We have regulars from Anderson Township and Florence, as well as from the neighborhood.”
If you’re in the mood for á là carte tacos, linger near Hoffner Park, where you’ll have to decide between Barrio Tequileria and Django Western Taco. (The Comet, a beloved watering hole a few blocks north on Hamilton Avenue, serves up burritos the size of a football.) Both restaurants focus on twists on traditional Tex-Mex, and the best way to try a little bit of everything is to start off with some guacamole, then order three (why not make it four?) tacos. Add a margarita, and you have the perfect introduction to street tacos.
Also near the park is the American Can building, which houses Ruth’s Parkside Café. Inside, Ruth’s has a number of eclectic, modern touches, such as a metalwork drop ceiling that helps create a cozy atmosphere within the former factory. The restaurant’s diverse menu is built around fresh and healthy comfort food dishes, like “airline” chicken, Creole catfish, and spinach sauté.
Bistro Grace, right in the heart of Northside on Hamilton Avenue, has an affinity for those familiar dishes and adds a modern interpretation. Start off with the goetta poutine or an order of mussels, followed by the scallops or strip steak. There’s also the Bistro burger and weekly specialty pizzas that are worth return visits.
A few blocks north along the main drag is Melt Eclectic Café, which caters to vegetarian and gluten-free diners. Lunch at Melt is a neighborhood favorite, with soups, salads, and sandwiches on the chalkboard menu above the counter. It’s also known for its chili— Skyline-esque, but sans the meat—good by itself or atop a mound of spaghetti in Melt’s vegan version of a three-way.
Traditionally, Northside’s central business district has been the place to open a restaurant, but recently Spring Grove Avenue has seen its fair share of new food options. The Littlefield, which opened about a year ago, is lauded for its bourbon selection, but the food is a well-kept secret. Centered around shareable bites, the menu is dripping with freshness and focuses on local fare. Dessert isn’t always a must, but at The Littlefield, if you pass up the browned butter rice krispy treats with bourbon chocolate chips, you’ve missed out.
Several Northside store owners are also residents of this lively neighborhood, offering sundry goods and services to share with their community. Find more than just pet products at Northside Grange (above), the recently opened Tickle Pickle (opposite left) will make burgers for any dietary need, and find many of your coffee needs in one convenient alley (above left).
Northside Yacht Club, formerly known as Mayday, is one of the newest additions to the neighborhood. Smoked chicken wings bathed in a cilantro-honey-lime sauce and poutine (fresh-cut fries, duck fat gravy, Wisconsin cheese curds, and scallions) are the perfect accompaniments to a pint of craft beer.
— Caitlin Koenig
Northside Spring Grove & Hamilton Avenues Northside.net
Northside Farmers’ Market Winter: Every Wed., 4–7pm Northside Presbyterian Church 4222 Hamilton Ave.